Whether you call them list articles or “listicles,” you’ve almost certainly seen your share of web content pieces with lists at the center. You probably know that they’re popular, and met with a bit of derision from time to time, you may not know why they work. Before you discount the idea of using list format posts for your blog, take a moment to consider all of the reasons why they’re so popular.
- The Brain Loves Lists – Your daily agenda, the things you need to buy at the grocery store and rules for your babysitter all have one thing in common: they’re more likely to be acknowledged and fulfilled if they’re in list form. This is because the human brain naturally seeks to categorize information, boosting not only recall at a later date by also comprehension in the moment. List articles appeal to a very specific quirk in how the brain operates.
- They Encourage Readers to Commit – Scrolling through a Facebook feed or Twitter timeline translates to a never-ending barrage of information. Readers have so many options before them, and some are bound to get lost in the shuffle. The very nature of a list article appeals not only because of the information they promise, but because the headline itself lets the reader know exactly what they’ll be asked to invest. The certainty that the headline will be explained in a specified number of points is appealing, and greater appeal to readers translates to more traffic to your blog.
- List Articles are Heavy on Skim-ability – Online reading tends to be more akin to quick skimming than in-depth concentration on the subject at hand. Because a list article is broken into easy-on-the-eye chunks, they’re more comfortable for web readers and better lend themselves to skimming than a solid wall of text.
- Easily Digestible Content – A quick breakdown of a particular subject may not communicate all of the nuances and intricacies of the given situation, but it will allow readers to quickly and easily digest the most salient points. With a basic understanding accessible in relatively short order, readers are able to become a bit better informed without investing hours of research time.
- Engaging Audiences Naturally – The very nature of a list article allows it to, if written properly, become a magnet for readers and post engagement. Opinion posts using the list article format as a ranking system naturally encourages readers to engage with the content, even if it’s just to disagree with the inclusion of a particular bullet point or the omission of another. When readers engage, even to disagree with you, you’ve created a successful blog post.
- Sharing is Caring –Just as list articles can naturally encourage engagement with readers by urging them to share their own opinions, they also encourage social media sharing. More traffic is always a good thing, even if it’s generated as a show of opposition. “Can you believe what this post says?!” is still a share, and leads to more eyes on your work.
- A Time-Honored Tradition – List articles may be one of the more popular and favorable formats for web content, but they’re not a new invention. From the Ten Commandments to the Top 10 Cat Gifs, lists are a venerable format with plenty of history.
- They Don’t Have to Be Vapid – One of the more common criticisms of the modern listicle is that it’s long on fluff and short on informative content. While this can be true, it certainly doesn’t have to be the case. The same structured order that makes a list article easy for the brain to categorize and process can lend itself to sharing substantive and informative content.
- Making Content Less Intimidating – A 5,000 word article in long form is intimidating to the casual reader, and can immediately put them off reading content sharing useful information. Breaking the same long form article into a list format immediately makes the content more approachable, even if the word count never changes. As a blogger, you want to present an inviting face to new readers. If your message is lengthy, a list article may be just the thing to draw those readers in and grab their attention.
- List Articles and SEO Impact – Not only does the human brain love lists; so do search engines. Heavy on the structured HTML, a list article naturally lends itself to better search engine optimization. Because SEO is so important for web content creators and bloggers, it’s always a good idea to look for ways of boosting search engine friendliness.
Even if the list article is something of a guilty pleasure for more “serious” readers, they’re still one of the most popular forms of web content out there and do have the ability to make a very real impact. If you’re looking for a quick, easy way to share content and communicate a particular point, consider the power of the list article for your next blog post.